When You Take Children to Other People’s Homes

Contin­u­ing the pri­or arti­cle, these are the spe­cif­ic addi­tion­al guide­lines to be fol­lowed when one is a guest in some­one’s home and has chil­dren with you. Again—do they make sense? What have I left out? If you dis­agree with some­thing, why is that?

1) If your child has or has recent­ly had any kind of con­ta­gious ill­ness or any par­a­site infes­ta­tion, inform your host of this fact in advance so that he may decide whether or not he wants said con­ta­gion or par­a­site in his home. Yes, lice count.

2) You are respon­si­ble for your child at all times, peri­od. Do not expect oth­ers to care for or mon­i­tor your chil­dren unless they have made a sin­cere offer to do so for this spe­cif­ic occasion.

3) Old­er chil­dren res­i­dent in the home in which you are vis­it­ing do not exist to act as babysit­ters for your child. If you wish to engage their ser­vices, make a spe­cif­ic request to do so, with reim­burse­ment agreed upon in advance. Such arrange­ments are made for a spe­cif­ic time peri­od and should not be assumed to be in effect dur­ing future visits.

4) Make no assump­tions as to the safe­ty pre­cau­tions tak­en in oth­ers’ homes. Even if your host states that his home is “babyproofed,” peo­ple have wild­ly vary­ing stan­dards regard­ing what con­sti­tutes “babyproof” and chil­dren are remark­ably inven­tive in their abil­i­ty to find new ways to harm themselves.

5) Watch your infant or tod­dler con­stant­ly and close­ly. Do not let a child of that age out of your view unless some­one else in whom you place a great deal of trust has offered to mon­i­tor the child. If some­one else is watch­ing your child, check on them regularly.

6) Check on old­er chil­dren at age-appro­pri­ate inter­vals. Do not assume that all is well with­out assur­ing your­self of that fact through first-hand obser­va­tion. “I did­n’t hear any­thing wrong” isn’t enough.

7) When your host points out some­thing that your child is doing, there is a rea­son for it. Tak­ing no action or wait­ing for anoth­er to act is unac­cept­able. If your child just put some­thing in her mouth, you need to get up imme­di­ate­ly and find out what it was unless the child is at a table and you know that the only items with­in her reach are intend­ed to be con­sumed by her.

8) Homes are not play­grounds, and should not be treat­ed as if they were.

9) Your host is not respon­si­ble for keep­ing items that might be dam­aged by your child, or that your child may use to hurt him­self or oth­ers, out of your child’s reach.

10) If you do not dis­ci­pline your child imme­di­ate­ly and con­sis­tent­ly when nec­es­sary, it is very unlike­ly that your fam­i­ly will be wel­come guests in many homes. Do not place your host in the awk­ward posi­tion of need­ing to ask you to dis­ci­pline your child, or worse, doing so themselves.

11) Rude or sullen com­ments and atti­tudes are not “just being a kid” or “just act­ing like a teen.” They are rude and unpleasant.

12) If your child is being very dis­rup­tive, poor­ly behaved, or sim­ply unpleas­ant, you should excuse your­self and your child from the occa­sion. That may mean end­ing a din­ner or oth­er planned event ear­ly, but such is to be expect­ed as a par­ent or host of fam­i­lies with children.

14) Teach your child that it is nev­er appro­pri­ate to touch oth­er peo­ple in any way with­out their spe­cif­ic consent. 

15) Soiled dia­pers should be removed to an out­side trash con­tain­er imme­di­ate­ly, regard­less of whether or not you detect a smell.

16) Do not allow your child to wan­der about with food or drink, espe­cial­ly with those that may cause stains, unless you are invit­ed to do so by your host.

17) If you are the par­ent of a child who is too young to enter­tain him­self qui­et­ly on his own, bring some kind of qui­et diver­sion for him with you. Col­or­ing books and crayons or col­ored pen­cils, a favorite toy or book, etc. are good. Do not assume that your host has such items, or is oblig­at­ed to pro­vide them, in her home.

18) Par­ents of small chil­dren should always trav­el with bot­tles, sip­py cups, food or drink for their chil­dren, dia­pers, wipes, and a change of cloth­ing. Please do not bring food and drink that are high­ly like­ly to cause stains—brightly col­ored drinks, toma­to-based foods, etc.—into oth­ers’ homes unless you will be mon­i­tor­ing their con­sump­tion very close­ly and con­fin­ing your chil­dren to the kitchen while they con­sume them.

19) Clean your chil­dren’s hands and faces imme­di­ate­ly after meals or snacks, or have them do so. Grub­by hands cause stains. Like­wise, make sure that they always wash their hands thor­ough­ly after any trip to the bathroom.

20) Teach your child that the only accept­able sur­faces for col­or­ing, writ­ing, or paint­ing are those that have been pro­vid­ed sole­ly for that pur­pose. My child nev­er marked on any wall or col­ored in any book oth­er than a col­or­ing book despite hav­ing con­stant access to art sup­plies from tod­dler­hood, so I know per­fect­ly well that this is, indeed, possible.

21) If you are in the habit of using screen-based activ­i­ties (tele­vi­sion, com­put­er, video games, etc.) as a paci­fi­er for your chil­dren of any age, that is unfor­tu­nate. Do not expect to do so in oth­ers’ homes.

22) If you have been invit­ed to engage in a par­tic­u­lar activ­i­ty, such as gam­ing, watch­ing a movie, or mak­ing music, make sure that your chil­dren do not dis­rupt that activ­i­ty or at least min­i­mize those dis­rup­tions as much as pos­si­ble. We, for instance, are very tol­er­ant of the needs of infants and tod­dlers that are like­ly to arise while gam­ing, but some peo­ple are not. If your old­er child has been invit­ed to attend an event with you but has not been invit­ed to join a game, the host will have pre­sum­ably pro­vid­ed some oth­er area in which he may spend his time. Don’t expect the host to pro­vide diver­sions, and do not allow your child to sit with you unless that is accept­able to the host or GM.

23) When invit­ed to a social event, if chil­dren are not specif­i­cal­ly invit­ed, do not take them with­out ask­ing your host for per­mis­sion to do so. Some enter­tain­ments are adult-only, and chil­dren can be dis­rup­tive or change the feel­ing of such events by their very presence.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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